Pizza party.

I am a creature of habit, and a lot of my favorite habits have to do with food. For instance, Friday night at our house is usually Carryout Night. Sundays are for Sunday Suppers. Saturdays are kind of a wild card—we might be doing something with family or even going out somewhere. A lot of times, though, we end up cooking at home. We might try something more adventurous than we would attempt on a weeknight, or it might just be something fun. Last Saturday we decided to have a pizza party.

pizza

I made dough early in the afternoon. I used this Jamie Oliver recipe, which turned out fine but was very frustrating in the putting-together stages. I like making my own pizza dough (though personally it is just as easy/economical to buy it for $.69 per ball at the Italian market down the street) well enough, but as with all yeast-based products I seem to have some sort of mental roadblock about it. Making dough is always a huge mess in my kitchen and I end up with sticky globs of dough all over my hands, so a good portion of otherwise perfectly good dough ends up down the sink. I am sure this is purely operator error, but it is definitely my biggest pizza-related frustration.

We went a little bananas and decided to make three pies: Sausage and arugula, pesto and (half) olive, and pear and brie with caramelized onions. They were all fantastic but because it was my idea, I liked the pear and brie version the best of all.

Pear & Brie Pizza with Caramelized Onions

Ingredients
Pizza dough (I used the Jamie Oliver recipe linked above, but you can make your own or use a pre-made crust)
Olive oil
Italian seasoning blend (or combination of dried basil, dried oregano and garlic powder; or skip this entirely)
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella (also optional; or you can use more)
1 pear (Bosc or your favorite), sliced thinly
Small wedge of brie, sliced into thumb-sized pieces
1/2 a red onion, sliced thinly
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T butter
Salt & pepper to taste
Small amount of grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 425 and start to prepare the caramelized onions. Melt butter in a saute pan and add thinly sliced onions. Saute the onions, stirring frequently, until they are soft and start to brown slightly. Add salt and pepper, stir; add balsamic vinegar and stir again. Lower the heat and continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and caramelized (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

Roll or press pizza dough onto oiled baking sheet or pizza stone. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning or herbs and garlic powder. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella (to taste—you can skip this or use more, depending on how cheesy you like your pizza; but remember you want the taste of the brie to stand out). Place the onions on the pizza, distributing them evenly over the whole dough. Place pear slices on top of the onions with some space left between the pears for the brie. Finally, fill in the spaces with brie. Grate a small amount of parmesan over the pizza and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is crisp.

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